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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Event: CWRU Students Capture The Oral History Of Eliza Bryant Nursing Home Residents

Let's start this post off with a story. Imagine if you will, that you are older and your health is failing. You do not have many family members around to help care for you, get you to doctor's appointments and generally keep an eye on your wellbeing.  Then imagine that the year is 1893. And that you are black. A fact of life in the years after Reconstruction is that there wasn't any real option for aging African Americans. Nursing homes were segregated and even homeless shelters would turn away black people at the door. Eliza Bryant, the daughter of freed slaves and a well-known humanitarian in the Cleveland area, found this utterly unacceptable and took on the task of creating a space for the elderly to reside and live with dignity. She helped found the Cleveland Home of Aged Colored... Read More →

VIDEO: Ayana Mathis and Oprah Winfrey Discuss Suffering In “Twelve Tribes”

Have your debut novel selected as Oprah's second selection in her book club and you must expect for your life to change, as Ayana Mathis is now finding out. Once The Twelve Tribes of Hattie received the literary world's highest blessing from Ms. Winfrey, her publisher rushed it to bookstores to capitalize on the wave of publicity soon to follow. Now, Mathis' name is on the lips of readers' everywhere, with Oprah even comparing her to the all-time great, Toni Morrison. Twelve Tribes is a book looking at generations of a family after their matriarch migrates from Georgia to Pennsylvia in search of a better life. In taking a fictional look at the world Isabel Wilkerson told so well in her acclaimed Warmth of Other Suns, a nonfiction piece, Mathis gives it to us straight - no fantasy, just... Read More →

VIDEO: Sneak Peek Of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Mohsin Hamid We must have written about Mohsid Hamid's The Reluctant Fundamentalist at least six times over the past year but only because we have been looking forward to the big-screen adaptation. It will finally be hitting the big screen in a few weeks (February 21) and The Guardian has given us a behind-the-scenes look at some of the film's more powerful moments. Check it out below and let us know what you think:  Read More →

What Were Your Thoughts On President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address?

On Monday, President Obama delivered his second Inaugural Address in the cold Washington air, laying out a progressive agenda for the next four years. He spoke clearly on the issues of gay marriage, climate change, and social service programs, while pushing members of Congress to work together to solve some of the biggest issues of our time:  Progress does not compel us to settle century’s long debates about the role of government for all time, but it does require us to act in our time. For now, decisions are upon us and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act. We must act knowing that our work will be imperfect (ph). We must act knowing that today’s victories will... Read More →

“I Have A Dream”: Collections of Martin Luther King Links From Around The Web

Taylor Branch and Isabel Wilkerson were special guests of the Diane Rehm Show on NPR to discuss Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy. One of our favorite quotes from the episode, from Isabel Wilkerson: "Ultimately, what Martin Luther King and the thousands upon thousands of unnamed, unknown people who buttressed his strength and his courage, what they were fighting was a structure that needed to be dismantled in order for justice to prevail in the South."  Lani Guinier, the first black woman to be appointed to a tenured professorship at Harvard Law School, will be a featured speaker at the Martin Luther King Jr Celebration at Case Western Reserve University. Martin Luther King III spoke on CBS "This Morning" about his father's legacy and what it means to have the Inauguration and... Read More →

VIDEO: What’s It Like To Be The Inaugural Poet?

On the eve of President Barack Obama's second inauguration, Yale University hosted a live chat with Elizabeth Alexander, whose "Praise Song Of The Day" was her selection at his first inauguration. Watch the video above for her thoughts on what it's like to be selected to have a part in such a tremendous day.  Read More →

Jonathan Kozol To Speak On Reducing Poverty With Dr. Cornel West And Tavis Smiley

Jonathon Kozol1996 winner Jonathan Kozol will be speaking with Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West at the January 17th event, Vision For A New America: A World Without Poverty. In advance of the event, Kozol appeared on the Smiley and West PBS show (link to the full show here) to discuss his new book, Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America and his work to change education policy to create a more even playing field for impoverished children.  As Dr. West said in his introduction, "There is just nobody like Jonathan Kozol in the culture, going back to 1967 with Death At An Early Age, on through 14 more powerful texts...No one else has been able to keep track of the rich humanity and resiliency of our poor brothers and sisters of all colors."  Listen to the full... Read More →

Isabel WIlkerson Describes Jim Crow Laws In The 1950s

In an Art Works podcast hosted by the National Endowment of the Arts, Isabel Wilkerson describes what life was like for African Americans at the turn of the century, at the beginning of the "Great Migration" from the southern states to the northern. It is almost hard to believe that we are only sixty years from this type of lifestyle:  "...many of us believe that we have an understanding of it based on the pictures that we might have seen of the black and white water fountains, for example. But in many ways, that was just the least of it. That was, in some ways, probably what many of them might have been able to live with, considering all that they were really up against. From the moment they would awake in the morning to the moment that they turned in for the night, there were... Read More →

We Can’t Get Enough Of Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale HurstonAs we wrote before, Isabel Wilkerson has been educating her fans on the impact of the Great Migration by posting stories of prominent African Americans to her Facebook page. Recently, she profiled Zora Neale Hurston, one of our favorite writers and one of the literary world's greatest treasures.  We loved what she had to say about Hurston so much that we decided to share it with you here: On this day, January 7, in 1891 or 1901, beloved author Zora Neale Hurston was born in Notasulga, Ala., to Rev. John and Lucy Hurston. She grew up in the all-black town of Eatonville, Fla., and went north as a young woman, just as the Great Migration was starting during World War I. She attended what is now Morgan State University and then Howard University, where she got her first story published in... Read More →

What’s The Next Pick In Oprah’s Book Club?

We highlighted the reboot of Oprah's book club (dubbed Oprah's Book Club 2.0 as a nod to the newly added interactive elements) with her first pick, Cheryl Strayed's Wild. Now she's announced her next selection, Ayana Mathis' The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. Oprah said, "Not since Toni Morrison have I read a writer whose words have moved me this way." Oprah Announces Her Second Pick for Oprah's Book Club 2.0 This masterful debut novel was so astonishing that Oprah had to share it with the world. Watch to find out what Oprah loved so much about Ayana Mathis' The Twelve Tribes of Hattie. Learn more about how you can participate in Oprah's Book Club 2.0. Read More →
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